The Catholic Church has never encouraged anyone to use ivory for religious devotional objects and, in fact, teaches that animals must be treated with respect, the Vatican spokesman has said, according to a Catholic News Service report in the Catholic Herald.
Fr Federico Lombardi was responding to questions posed in an online National Geographic editorial. In a letter he said: “Thinking that there is an important ivory trafficking centre to uproot here [in the Vatican] in order to save African elephants makes no sense.”
Within the boundaries of Vatican City, “there is no store that sells items made of ivory to the faithful or to pilgrims”, Fr Lombardi said.
The October 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine featured an article entitled “Ivory Worship” about how the use of objects made of ivory in the devotions of many religions – not just Catholicism – are contributing to the slaughter of elephants in Africa.
In an online editorial, National Geographic said that by taking a stand against the use of ivory for religious objects, the Vatican could help slow the slaughter. The article included the personal email addresses of Fr Lombardi and his secretary.
Responding to the editorial, Fr Lombardi said many people had written to express their concern and not all of them were “particularly kind or profound”.
FULL STORY Vatican rejects claims it encourages illegal ivory trade (Catholic Herald)